Basil Lime Pumpkin Salad

This is a surprisingly light tasting salad for having not only chewy pearl barley but roasted pumpkin. I think it’s the dressing and all the fresh spinach.

If you make extra dressing, and I suggest that you do – it pairs great with a more traditional salad, simple cold noodles, and even as a dip for chicken or shrimp. It’s delicious.

vegetarian, vegan

Basil Lime Pumpkin Salad

1 big wedge pumpkin or a butternut squash

Baby spinach

2 large scallions

1/2 cup basil

2 cloves garlic

4 Tablespoons lime juice

2 green chilis

1/2 cup pearl barley

1/2 cup stock

1.5 cups water

Olive oil

Neutral oil

Smoked paprika

Garlic powder

Cumin

Salt & pepper

Optional: crispy chickpeas (this is one of my favorite brands)

First, get your pumpkin and barley working.

Preheat your oven to 200C/375F and prepare a baking sheet.

Peel the pumpkin and chop into bite-sized pieces.

Toss with a few good glugs neutral oil and liberal sprinkles of the smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

Roast 25 mins or until soft and your desired brownness is reached. I could have let mine go another 5 – 10 mins, but I was impatient so mine turned out soft and only a little browned.

Put the barley in your cooking vessel of choice with the stock and water + a liberal sprinkle of salt. If your stock doesn’t have any fat in it, a Tablespoon of olive oil is good here. Cook according to package directions. I cooked mine in a rice cooker by hitting the ‘rice’ button.

While both those are working, slice the scallions thin. Add half to your blender or food processor.

Add the spinach, basil, garlic cloves, lime juice, chilis (rough chopped and de-seeded if necessary), 5 Tablespoons olive oil, and liberal sprinkles salt and pepper. Whiz to combine, adding a few Tablespoons of water if your mixture is too dry for your appliance. I ended up adding about 3 Tablespoons.

Taste for seasoning and add more acid or salt if needed.

To assemble, toss the pumpkin and second half of the scallions together. Add the spinach and toss. Add the barley to the top while still warm to semi-wilt the spinach. Toss, adding the dressing halfway through.

Taste the whole mix together, adding any salt or pepper if necessary. I added a big sprinkle of finishing salt to mine. I also finished each serving with a generous sprinkle of crunchy spiced chickpeas. This salad makes an excellent chickpea delivery service. Bonus: added protein!

Makes enough to serve as a side for a party or for 4 for dinner

Roasted Squash & Barley Pilaf

This recipe is 100% inspired by one of my good friends & a master of all things philosophical, @Heidi. (It’s a NF forum thing)

I love her no-fuss approach to food and how she seeks meaning in what she uses to fuel her body.

This recipe is an interpretation of the flavor combinations she mentioned in a daily update post (I haven’t mentioned my fitness community lately, but if you’re looking for a great group of people to help give you a nudge going into 2021, check Nerd Fitness out).

I think we all need a little more @Heidi in our lives. For more reasons than that – hellooooo, badass.

Vegetarian, vegan

Roasted Squash & Barley Pilaf

1 cup Pearl barley (buckwheat groats would be a good gluten-free sub)

1 cup good stock

1 cup water

Big pinch salt

Good olive oil

Neutral oil

1 sprig rosemary

1/2 butternut squash

Curry powder

Large shallot

500g baby spinach

Garlic oil

1 tsp. oregano

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

Big hand full smoked almonds

Cook your barley with the stock, water and a generous pinch salt in a rice cooker or according to package directions.

Preheat your oven to 375F/200C. Prepare a baking sheet with a silicone mat or baking paper.

While the barley is working, peel your butternut, seed, and chop into roughly 1/2 inch cubes. Spread out on the prepared baking sheet, sprinkle liberally with neutral oil, salt, pepper and curry powder. Toss to combine. Bake 30-40 minutes or until nicely browned.

While those are going, set a medium pan over medium/medium-high heat. Spritz a couple of times with garlic oil. Rough chop a large shallot and add to the pan. Sautee until beginning to brown. Add some salt & pepper + the nutmeg and the spinach. Toss and cook until beginning to wilt.

When the barley is done, add the red wine vinegar, a finely chopped sprig of Rosemary (about 1Tbsp.), 1 tsp. oregano, and a couple glugs good olive oil. Stir to combine and gently fold in the squash & spinach.

Rough chop the almonds and use for garnish.

If you’ve got figs or pomegranate seeds (or both!) they would make fantastic additions. Finishing salt would also not go amiss.

Subsequent reheats are great with a fresh splash of vinegar and a touch extra fat to bring everything together. A shake of chili would also work well.

Serves 4 for dinner

Pumpkin Hummus With Orzo

Ok, so I’m on a bit of a pumpkin kick. And a grain/harvest/Buddha/nourish/whatever zeitgeisty thing you want to call it bowl kick. Again.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know I love a good bowl. I think I first got started down that track right about when this blog started, and I’ve never really looked back. Bowls FTW. Plates be damned.

This version can either go the Instagram route with an artful swirl of hummus to the side, or is also great all mushed together like a creamy pasta sauce. Either way you slice it: yum. I also love this hummus as a dip and swirled into my breakfast oatmeal.

Note: The addition of date molasses in this recipe was a point of contention in this household. I liked the sweetness and thought it brought good balance, but DH was not a fan.

gluten-free if you swap the orzo, vegetarian, vegan

Pumpkin Hummus Grain Bowl

1 cup orzo, rice, quinoa, barley – whatever grain you fancy – cooked in veggie stock

300g baby spinach

1 – 2 cups pumpkin, chopped

2 tsp. date molasses (optional)

Juice of 1 lemon

1 Tbsp. turmeric

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/4 cup smoked almonds, chopped

First, drizzle your pumpkin with 1 Tbsp. neutral oil, sprinkle liberally with cumin, salt and pepper and bake at 200C/375F for 20 – 30 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking.

prepare your grain, mixing the spinach in during the last 30 seconds or so. Drain and add to a large bowl.

Add the baked pumpkin to a food processor, along with the date molasses (if using), lemon juice, turmeric, olive oil, and garlic. Whiz to form a hummus. Taste for salt and add as needed.

To serve, either create a bowl topped with the chopped almonds and parsley or combine together

Serves 2 – 4 for dinner with some hummus leftover if you create individual bowls

Fall Pumpkin & Orange Salad

I think I found my Thanksgiving pumpkin-centric side for this year. I made this first round with sushi rice because that was what I had on hand, and it was great. Soft, almost creamy, and filling.

For Thanksgiving, I think I’ll swap the soft rice for something with more chew – either a wild rice mix or maybe pearl barley – and bump the orange and dill up a bit for more of a punch that will stand up to DH’s bourbon honey ham.

EDIT: I did end up making this for Thanksgiving, and it was fantastic. I used a mixture of wild and basmati rices for the grains and went for a curry spiced pumpkin instead of the molasses – both versions were great. I also beefed up the dill a little, which was also welcome.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan

Fall Pumpkin & Orange Salad

Take:

2-3 cups chopped pumpkin or other orange squash

And toss with:

1 Tbsp. date molasses

2 Tbsp. neutral oil

1 Tbsp. soy sauce

Salt & pepper

Bake at 220C/400F for 30 – 40 minutes or until deeply browned. Add to a large bowl.

While the pumpkin is working, make some ginger rice by combining the following and cooking however you cook your grains.

1 cup rice or grains

2 cups water

2 coins sliced ginger

1 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

When the rice is done, toss out the ginger and combine the warm rice & squash with:

1/2 inch ginger, minced

3 Tbsp. good olive oil

2 scallions, minced

1/4 cup pomegranate arils

1/2 tsp. black pepper

3 Tbsp. dill, chopped

2 Tbsp. peanut butter

2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard (Maille is my favorite)

4 clementines, supremed, with the juice squeezed out of the leftover bits

2 tsp. turmeric

1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

Serves 4-6

Pumpkin Grain Bowl

This dish is great warm, room temperature or slightly chilled – making it perfect for your next get-together.

Pumpkin Grain Bowl

1.5 cups chopped pumpkin (or any variety orangey squash)

1 carrot, shredded

1 cucumber, ribboned

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

2 cups wild rice mix (quinoa would also be good – you want something with a bit of body to it)

Crispy fried chickpeas (mine were pre-seasoned and halved)

2 scallions, chopped

1 Tbsp. turmeric olive oil (substitute with adding a little turmeric to your favorite oil )

2 tsp. cumin

1 Tbsp. curry powder

Dressing

1/4 cup turmeric olive oil

1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Juice of 2 limes

2 Tbsp. dijon or whole grain mustard

1 tsp. mustard seeds

1/2 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. salt

Lay your chopped pumpkin out on a prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the Tablespoon of oil over top and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 Tablespoon curry powder, salt and pepper. Bake at 200C/375F for 30 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown. Remove.

While the pumpkin is working, cook your rice or other grains however you cook rice. Set aside.

Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk.

To assemble, combine all but the crispy chickpeas in a large bowl, adding the chickpeas as you serve so they don’t get soggy.

Serves 4 for dinner and more as a light lunch

Avocado Dill Pasta Salad

This recipe started off as a way to use up some fresh dill that wasn’t my favorite egg salad and somehow ended up morphing into a riff of an old Summer family favorite: seafood salad. Which I can’t believe I haven’t shared a recipe with y’all for yet. I c-r-a-v-e it every tomato season.

The original (to my family at least) salad included Krab, shrimp, hard boiled eggs & lots of mayo. Sometimes, depending upon which Aunt got a wild hair, chopped up bits of lettuce. Which is weird, but good.

Anyways. I gave myself an aversion to fake crab my first Summer out of high school (reminder, kids: check your expiration dates), so that was out. I swapped with flaked salmon but kept the shrimp in this version; I also sadly forgot the egg until I was eating trying to figure out what was missing. I was also wanting a little more mustard punch, so adjust yours as necessary.

And a note on seasoning: I happen to love this salad with way too much pepper and salt, because that’s how my family usually served it. This recipe includes a normal amount of each (depending on how HAM you go with the cracked pepper); I had to go back twice for more after the salad hit the fridge.

gluten-free, pescatarian, vegetarian and vegan with substitutions

Avocado Dill Pasta Salad

Dressing:

1 avocado (mine was small and I could have gone for more)

2 cloves garlic

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. water

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salad:

4 – 6 cups pasta of choice (I used rice spirals)

15 cherry tomatoes

1 smallish cucumber (about 2/3 cup chopped)

1 smallish bell pepper (about 1 cup chopped)

2 – 4 stalks celery (about 3/4 cup chopped)

1/2 shallot, minced

2 scallions, chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp. celery seed (if using celery salt instead, you may not need to salt the salad – taste, taste, taste)

Loads of fresh cracked black pepper

Salt

Shrimp (I used 13 medium), peeled, cooked & chopped (optional)

Krab, crab or salmon (also optional)

2 – 3 Tbsp. your favorite mayo (optional)

Start you pasta boiling according to package directions, taking care to salt the water. When almost done, chuck your shrimp in to cook. Drain and set aside.

Pull the shrimp and chop. Add to a large bowl.

Chop the cucumber, bell pepper, celery, scallion and parsley. Add to the big bowl.

Mince the shallot and add. Halve the tomatoes and add those too. Add the celery seed.

In a blender or food processor, blitz all dressing ingredients until smooth. If you want your dressing a little runny, add more water until desired consistency is reached. Mine turned out a bit thick, which I liked, but I ended up adding 2 – 3 Tbsp. Kewpie mayo to the salad to loosen it a bit.

Add the cooled-ish pasta and dressing to the bowl. Mix well to combine. Hit with a bunch of pepper. Taste. Add more salt, lemon juice or some mayo to finish off.

Stash in the fridge for a bit to chill and let the flavors get acquainted.

Serves 4 – 6 for a meal or more if a side

Shaved Zucchini + Stone Fruit Salad

I love a good end-of-Summer savory fruit salad. It’s kind of a yearly thing with my brain, and I’m here for it.

Stone Fruit Salad

Lots of peach salad recipes

This is no exception to that rule. This salad is about as light as one would expect, but works well. I worried that the zucchini wouldn’t be great, but it was; even raw. The key here is to peel it into ribbons. I used my regular vegetable peeler. My ribbons weren’t even, but they were delicious.

So much so, I can’t really say this is more than a 1-person meal. I mean, sure, you can feed 2 if you want to throw a main in, but I managed to knock it out in a second helping at lunch.

If you can’t find the Kewpie dressing, a nice sesame would be good. So would my love pomegranate molasses. Balsamic would also work really well. Grapefruit would play nicely.

I had also meant to grab some good vegan Feta for this salad but forgot. It would be nice and would definitely help fill this out to more of a meal, but wasn’t necessary.

gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo

Shaved Zucchini + Stone Fruit Salad

1 large zucchini, ribboned thinly

1/2 shallot, minced

1 plum, chopped

3Tbsp. Kewpie no-oil Yuzu dressing

1Tbsp. your favorite neutral oil

2Tbsp. smoked almonds, chopped

1.5tsp. fresh thyme

1/4c. fresh parsley, chopped

1/2tsp. red chili flakes

Ribbon the zucchini thinly and add to a large bowl.

I tossed any ribbons that were purely peel to the pups, and stopped when I hit all-seed strips. A bit is wasted here, but can be easily chopped and chucked in a pan for a quick little pop of veggie later in the week. I ended up using mine in a breakfast zucchini & fried egg rice with browned butter and snipped chives.

Mince the shallot, de-stem the thyme, and chop both the parsley and plum. Add to the bowl.

Add the red chili flakes, along with the dressing and oil. I’d start with 2 Tbsp. dressing, toss, and see if it needs more. Hit with a few grinds salt and pepper.

When it’s time to plate, add the chopped almonds and toss quickly so they don’t go soggy.

Serves 1 – 2 for lunch depending upon what all else you have going on

Salmon Soba Salad

This makes a nice little Summer dinner. It’s low fuss, can be eaten cold or room temperature, and dressed a bunch of different ways. As pasta salads can.

Gluten-free, pescatarian

Salmon Soba Salad

1 package soba noodles

2 salmon fillets

4 – 6 ounces watercress or microgreen

1/4 cup chives, snipped

1/2 cup scallions, sliced thin

Dressing

Juice of 1 lime

1 medium cucumber, sliced into thin ribbons or diced

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. soy sauce or coconut aminos

1 tsp. honey

1 tsp. sriracha

Marinade

2 tsp. gochujiang

2 tsp. honey

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

Combine the marinade ingredients. Marinate the fish 30 mins – an hour. Discard marinade and bake or sauté the fish until your desired done ness is reached. I pan sautéed mine until medium with nice and crispy skin. Do watch the fish; your marinade has honey in it so it is like to burn. Mine did a bit, but it was still delicious.

While your fish is working, whisk the dressing ingredients together in a large bowl.

Cook your soba according to package directions, drain and set aside, adding a scant sprinkle of sesame oil and tossing quickly to avoid the noodles sticking together while they sit and cool. If you want your salad cold, chill in the fridge.

Dice and mince the cucumber and herbs. Add to the bowl. Add the micro greens. Add the noodles. Toss to combine.

To serve, plate up a bowl of noodle salad, topped with thick batons of fish and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serves 2

Potato Salad with Damn Good Dressing

This dressing, which was based on an everything dressing posted by one of the blogs I’ve been following long enough to be on its mailing list but whose name escapes me as I’m sitting down to type this up (maybe First Mess?) is fantastic and I could see it being equally as good on vegetarian as meat dishes (I served my salad with some simple seared salmon and it was delicious), and even great on salads. I would also stir this into some nice rice or orzo for a little quick saucy flavor boost. Yum.

gluten-free, paleo, pescatarian, vegetarian, could be made vegan, FODMAP friendly

Potato Salad with Damn Good Dressing

Salad

1/2 kg new potatoes (or other small variety that doesn’t turn to mush when boiled)

4 – 6 hard boiled eggs

2 big hands arugula

Dressing

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

2 Tbsp. soy sauce or coconut aminos

1/5 tsp. flax seeds

1 tsp. sturdy brown mustard

2 tsp. lemon juice

3/4 cup neutral oil

1 big hand parsley

1/2 bunch chives

1.5 tsp. anchovy paste (you could swap for miso – what you’re after is umami)

Boil your potatoes 10 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain and quarter. Add to a large bowl.

Hard boil your eggs. Peel, quarter and add to the bowl.

Add the arugula.

In your blender or food processor, combine all dressing ingredients. Hit with some salt and pepper. Whiz until the herbs are chopped and the dressing is combined. Taste. Add more salt/pepper/lemon juice as necessary.

Pour about a cup over the still-warm potatoes. Toss to combine and let sit until you’re ready to serve.

I served my first round of this salad room temperature with nicely seared salmon. Subsequent servings have been heated in the microwave with a little dressing added and they’ve also been great. It’s even decent cold and I’m not a fan of cold cold potato salad.

Serves 4? 5? Depends what you’re doing with it. I got 2 dinners + 2 lunches out of it. And I have about 3/4 of a cup of dressing leftover for the rest of the week.

Peachy Keen Steak Bowl

This dish *started* as a riff on a Mediterranean steak bowl … and then my local grocery had nice peaches. So we went a different way. FYI, hummus pairs quite well with peaches.

gluten-free

Peachy Keen Steak Bowl

Steak:

1kg. flank steak or something similar

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 Tbsp. onion powder

Liberal cracked black pepper.

First, combine all steak ingredients in a bag or vessel of some sort and marinate at least an hour and up to over night. When it’s time to cook, remove the steak to a prepared baking sheet. Toss the marinade.

Salady bit:

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1/2 red onion, fairly thinly sliced

1-2 peaches, sliced into quarters or eighths

1 small cucumber, chopped

Splash rice vinegar

Splash oil

Salt & pepper

Juice of 1/2 a lemon (I halved and roasted mine along with the veggies)

Set your oven to broil. Add the cherry tomatoes, halved lemons, peach wedges and onion slices to the prepared sheet with the steak.

Pop into the oven for 4 minutes, flip the steak, and back into the oven for 2 more for rare (if your steak is thin); more for not-rare. When the steak is cooked to your liking, remove and let sit 4 – 10 minutes to rest. Slice thinly against the grain with rested.

While the steak and veggies are broiling, make the dressing.

When the tomatoes are blistered and the peaches have some color, add to a large bowl with the cucumber (chopped). Add the rest of the ingredients, toss, and taste for salt and acid.

Dressing:

1/2 cup yogurt (I was lucky enough to find plain soy yogurt this week)

1 Tbsp. neutral oil

The other half lemons’ juice

1 clove garlic, grated

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried dill

1/2 tsp. salt

A little black pepper

Stir all dressing ingredients to combine. Taste for salt and add more if necessary.

Bowl:

Hummus

Microgreens (optional, I used radish)

Toasted pepitas (Optional)

Chives or green onions (would also be lovely)

To assemble the bowl, lay a Tablespoon or a few of hummus down. Top with greens if you’re using and some salad. Lay the steak on top, top with dressing, and sprinkle with the optional garnishes. Hit with a few grinds pepper & an extra sprinkle salt.

Serves 2 for dinner + 1 for lunch